Pluto TV the largest free streaming service in the world, executive says

(Logo: Pluto TV, ViacomCBS / Graphic: The Desk)

Pluto TV has become the largest ad-supported free streaming television service in the world, an executive in charge of the company’s European operations claimed in a recent interview.

During an appearance at the Future of TV Advertising virtual conference, managing director Olivier Jollet said Pluto TV had achieved near-global dominance in the advertisement-supported video on demand (AVOD) marketplace, with variants of the wildly popular television service popping up in dozens of countries over the last two years.

Pluto TV currently provides more than 250 streams, or “channels,” of video content in the United States, including dozens of MTV Networks-branded channels with programming sourced from Viacom’s library of content (Pluto TV was acquired by Viacom in 2019; Viacom merged with CBS to form ViacomCBS late last year).

The service also provides a handful of linear, or live, streams from CBS News; CBS Sports; Comcast’s NBC News Now and Sky News; Fremantle Media’s Buzzr TV; Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s Stadium Network; beIN Sports and Dash Radio.

In Europe, Pluto TV launched two years ago and has grown to offer more than 100 streams of content in the United Kingdom and nearly 80 streams in Germany. The company is expected to launch in several other European countries, including France and Spain, in the coming months.

And this year, Pluto TV rolled out its service in more than a dozen Latin American countries with 24 streams available in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela and other areas. It plans to add nearly four dozen more channels by the end of this year.

“We are not digitizing the existing TV landscape, we are creating a new one – which means that most of the channels that you see on the Pluto TV platform are channels that our team has been creating,” Jollet remarked at the conference according to the marketing blog WARC.

Those channels include movie streams and “binge-worthy” networks containing hundreds of hours of content from Viacom and other licensed sources. In the United States, the company also distributes movies and TV shows through an on-demand section, with some selections that mirror similar offerings on Tubi TV, Amazon Prime and Vudu’s ad-supported movie service.

All that content mixed with an aggressive global expansion plan has started to pay off for Pluto TV and ViacomCBS: Last month, the company reported 24 million active monthly users across its platform, a year-over-year increase of 55 percent. The company is aiming for an additional 6 million monthly active users by the end of the month.

“I’m not going to stand here and say we’re going to be a bigger business than Netflix in terms of revenue,” Pluto TV CEO Tom Ryan told entertainment news outlet The Wrap last week. “But I don’t see why, as streaming continues its meteoric rise, and as consumers use a handful of apps — only a few of which they’re willing to pay for — that Pluto TV shouldn’t be in the vast majority of those streaming households.”

Ryan said he feels confident Pluto TV’s strategy — offer lots of content, expand to everywhere and keep it free — makes the company a winner in the long-term.

“The average house uses four to five streaming apps, but are only typically willing to pay for two or three of those,” Ryan told The Wrap. “Pluto TV allows you to have hundreds of high quality, premium live channels and thousands of shows and movies on demand. All for free. There’s no reason every streaming household should not have Pluto TV.”

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